Laos is definitely a country I knew little, if anything, about. To tell you the truth, I’m not too sure I know that much more after my brief visit there either. Laos was more a warm up for Myanmar than anything for me. Unlike its neighbours, it had never held that much of an interest to me, but when in the area why not pop in eh?
First stop was Luang Prabang to meet Jori in our hostel before heading out to a veggie buffet in the market. For 10,000 kip (about £1) you can pile you bowl as high as you like full of fruits, veggies and pasta/noodles. Probably not the most hygienic of places, but for the price and taste you can’t go wrong. We didn’t end up getting sick from any of the food, so that’s always a Brucey bonus. The market in Luang Prabang was definitely more relaxed than other markets in Asia. It was nice to walk around with some delicious coconut pancakes or rotis, and browse the different items on offer, without being hounded or called “HEY LADY” by those trying to sell you something.
Our two full days in Luang Prabang were rainy ones. We didn’t let that stop us climbing to the top of the small Mount Phousi, where we enjoyed some misty views. We also crossed the bamboo bridge, which is built twice a year, as the rainy season always destroys it. Jori had been told about a pizzeria called ‘Secret pizza‘, that was only open on a Tuesday and Friday, seeing as we were there on a Tuesday it would have been rude not to go and see what all the fuss was about. It was real Italian pizza, which, after eating Korea’s strange and wonderful potato pizzas, was just what we needed. Although it’s not much of a secret anymore, as someone let the cat out of the bag to lonely planet, so it was pretty busy. I would go back for the yummy sweet treats alone, and they had some nice restaurants. I tried one of Laos’ national dishes, ‘laap’ and have got to say, it was pretty underwhelming. It won’t be winning any food rewards from me!
Another rainy day was spent going to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall, and the bear rescue centre that was housed at the bottom. The colour of the water was incredible, and even in the rain it was one of the most amazing natural things I’ve seen. We enjoyed some pre bought French baked goodies . You can see the French influence all around Luang Prabang, it’s full of tasty French bakeries, and colonial architecture. Luang Prabang was somewhere I could certainly get on board with staying. It was nice and relaxed.
Next stop: Vang Vieng. Famed for it’s outrageous drinking and ‘tubing’ down rivers, it wasn’t top of our lists on places to visit. It was also full of Korean tourists, who had turned the place into a kind of mini Korea. Despite our apprehension, we soon found the Vang Vieng was pretty damn stunning. The views over looking the river were quite something. If you forget about the stories of partying, it’s somewhere pretty nice to visit. There’s also plenty of hikes to be done, although we didn’t really have time to do any of the big ones. Jori completed quite a scary hike, that although looked small, shouldn’t fool anyone. It was more like rock climbing in parts than hiking, and I quite valued my life so opted out! If I had longer there I would have liked to of visited the blue lagoon, and some of the many caves that are hidden around VV. Maybe next time, eh.
The last of our three Laos destinations was the capital, Vientiane. We stayed in the not-so dreamy ‘Dream Home Hostel 2‘ which turned out to be more of a nightmare, and a place we were grateful to leave. Luckily it was only one night, and we bumped into two friends we had made in Luang Prabang. We wandered round the night market, which wasn’t as nice as the one in LP. Our one and only full day was spent learning about the country. There are many bombs that haven’t gone off from the war, still alive around Laos. Obviously this is dangerous, and has caused many injuries and fatalities. We learnt about this in COPE visitor centre, and I was glad we got to learn about what the country has had to go through. Another thing I was again glad for was their bakeries. This time we tried Joma bakery, liking it so much we went for breakfast and lunch. When we had finished the day we got a taxi to Thanaleng, then a train to Nong Khai. Here we boarded the night train. I’m not gonna lie, I loved the sleeper train. It was really modern and comfy, especially after our
dream nightmare hostel the previous night. We opted for the 2nd class, female carriage, and would recommend to anyone. It was pretty empty and I managed to get a decent night sleep.
I was Myanmar ready, and pretty excited…